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Serafimo-Alekseevskaya chapel, Oktyabr (formerly Rossiya) hotel, and Organ music hall

Omsk (Омск in Russian), a city in the southwest of Siberia in Russia, capital of the Omsk Oblast. Population rose from 31,000 in 1881 and 53,050 in 1900 to 1,140,200 in 2003. The distance from Omsk to Moscow is 2700 km. Geographical location Template:Coor dm. In the Imperial Russia, it was the seat of the Governor General of Western Siberia, and later of the Governor General of the Steppes. For a brief period during the Civil War in 1918-19, it was proclaimed the Capital of Russia, and held the imperial gold reserves. Omsk is the administrative center of Siberian Cossacks, the see of the bishop of Omsk and Tara, and the imam of Siberia.



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View of Il'insky district from across the Irtysh. The river terminal borders both Om and Irtysh

Situated on the banks of the north-flowing Irtysh, at its confluence with the Om River, at an altitude of 87 m (285 ft), and on both branches of the Trans-Siberian railway, 2700 km (1690 mi) east of Moscow, it is the cross-junction of highways in central Russia. Passenger and freight boats along the Irtysh and the Ob rivers provide connection from coal and mineral-mining towns in Kazakhstan, as well as oil, natural gas and lumber-rich northern Siberia. Scheduled and charter flights link Omsk with multiple domestic and international (primarily, German) destinations, making it an important air gateway to Siberia and the Far East.


The climate is dry and continental, characterized by dramatic swings of weather. The average daily temperatures are, over the last 30 years, 68 F (+20 C) for July and −2 F (−19 C) for January (Russian Meteorological Center (, although typical extremes reach +35C in the summer and −35C in the winter. The average number of sunny days is over 300 per year. The annual rainfall is 315 mm (12.4 in).


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Tobolsk gate

The wooden fort of Omsk was erected in 1716 to protect the expanding Russian frontier, along the Ishim and the Irtysh rivers against the nomads (Kirghiz) of the Steppes. In late 1700s, Stronger works of brick were erected on the right bank of the Om; of these, the original Tobolsk and the restored Tara gates still stand, along with the original German Lutheran Church, an armory, a military jail, and commandant's house.

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Military Academy

In 1800s and early 1900s, Omsk became the administrative center of Western Siberia and the Steppes (Kazakhstan), acquiring a few churches and cathedrals of various denominations, mosques, a sinagogue, the governor-general's mansion, a military academy. Ink was joked to have been sold by the buckets. As the frontier receded and military importance diminished, the town fell into lethargy; it was during the mid-1800s that Dostoevsky lived and wrote in exile here.

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Lyubinsky avenue, "Moscow" merchant row

The new boom began with the construction of the Trans-Siberian railway in 1890s, when the merchants flocked to the city on the rail/river junction. Many a trade company opened stores and offices here, building an elaborately decorated district of the city, and bringing the hustle-and-bustle of modern transportation, means of communications and entertainment. Foreign powers, including the British, Dutch and Germans, opened consulates to represent their commercial interests. The pinnacle came with the lavish Siberian Exposition of Agriculture and Industry in 1910, for which a complex of buildings and fountains was constructed. In line with the popularity of World Fairs of the day, the exposition influenced observers to foretell the wonders of the "Chicago of Siberia". Many of the period's buildings survive (though none from the expo), and the architecture gives the city center a distinguished historical Siberian town flavor.

Shortly after the 1917 revolution, the pro-monarchy "white" forces seized control of the city. The "Provisional Government of Russia" was established in 1918, headed by the polar explorer and decorated war hero Admiral Kolchak. Omsk was proclaimed the Capital of Russia, and its central bank kept the Imperial gold reserves, guarded by the Czechoslovakian garrison trapped in the chaos of WWI. The city proved to be a key to power in Western Siberia; eventually, Kolchak, the government, and the gold retreated along the Trans-Siberian eastward to Irkutsk, and the bolshevik "red" forces took control in 1919.

The Soviet government preferred the young Novonikolaevsk, now Novosibirsk, to be the designated center of Western Siberia, prompting the mass transfer of administrative, cultural and educational functions from Omsk, dampening the city's growth and sparking a rivalry between the two cities continuing to this day. It was during and after WWII that Omsk received a new boost: many industries were evacuated away from Russia's western front. However, the concentration of military enterprises also had negative effects, as until 1990s, the city stayed closed to foreigners, and, after 1990, the collapse of the Soviet military demand led to high unemployment.

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Leningrad bridge over the Irtysh

In the 1950s, following the development of oil and natural gas field in Siberia, an oil-refining complex was built, along with an entire "town of oilworkers", expanding Omsk northward along the Irtysh. It is currently the largest complex in Russia, and third such in Europe. Sibneft, the parent company, is the largest employer in the city, wielding its tax address as leverage in negotiations with municipal and regional authorities.

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Nightlife around the Mayakovsky entertainment complex

Since the 1990s, Omsk, along with all of Russia, has been struggling to find its place in the new world. The former party elite, new businessmen and the criminal world mixed together and fought for the control of the city's most profitable enterprises. The most notorious cases involved Sibneft, and were reported by the New York Times, yet nothing was ever resolved. Until 2000, the feud between the regional and the municipal authorities made at least two points of view available to the public, and some work was done for the public good. This includes the establishment of the annual Siberian International Marathon (SIM), the celebration of City Days, construction of new leisure parks and renovation of the historic center. Nevertheless, the feud drained the city's resources, and two mayors were forced to leave, with a replacement all but appointed by the region's governor, in his post since the communist era. Currently, all of the region's important power levers, including the courts and the media, are in the hands of the regional government. The city is underperforming the Russian averages on economic growth and quality of life.

On March 2nd, 2005, the Consulate General of the Republic of Kazakhstan was opened, the first consulate in Omsk since 1917.


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Omsk Drama Theater
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St.Nicholas cathedral

The city's chief landmark is actually an ensemble of buildings along Lyubinskiy prospekt / ulica Lenina. This is the former merchant's row, balanced by two chapels and crowned on the hill with a bourse and an opposing drama theater, all dating from late 1800s -- early 1900s. The little side streets are lined with stately mansions of former insurance companies, trusts and banks from the same period. Hidden closer to the river confluence are the few surviving practical and somber buildings of Omsk's 1700s fortress. Another area of interest is Nikolsky prospekt / ulica Krasnyh zor', where a line of merchants' wooden houses still stands. The street leads to the Neoclassical cathedral of St Nicholas, which was commissioned by the Cossacks, designed by Vasily Stasov and consecrated in 1840. It contains various relics of the Siberian Cossacks. Various other landmarks are scattered throughout the city.

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Krestovozdvizhensky cathedral

The major museums in Omsk are the Vrubel Art Gallery and the State Historical Museum, located in the former bourse building and the governor-general's mansion, respectively.

External links

de:Omsk eo:Omsk es:Omsk fr:Omsk ja:オムスク nl:Omsk pl:Omsk pt:Omsk os:Омск ru:Омск sv:Omsk sl:Omsk


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